New heights Experience cuisine from the French Alps at Maison Dunand's pop-up

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Perhaps the most anticipated restaurant of 2022 is Maison Dunand by chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier, former chef de cuisine at the Michelin-starred Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

New heights  Experience cuisine from the French Alps at Maison Dunand's pop-up

Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier.

To whet fine diners’ appetite, chef Sauthier’s pop-up has taken over Gaggan Anand’s space on Sukhumvit 31. #DontTellGaggan. “I cannot do the same things as what I was doing at Le Normandie. It is time to reinvent myself — to use much more influence from the French Alps and ingredients based on simplicity and seasonality. Of course, this menu is a mix of what I want to do and what I was doing because you also have to please diners and not give them too much of a shock,” says the chef.

The menu at Maison Dunand’s pop-up is based on seasonality and would best be described as cuisine from the French region of Savoie, where chef Sauthier grew up. While waiting for the meal to begin and almost like a teaser of what’s to come, a thin wafer of cheese and cumin is served. “In summer, we have wild cumin called Carvi [also known as meadow cumin] and we made a thin cheese wafer with it,” says the chef. A delightful amuse bouche trio of Ham and green salad, black garlic and anchovies, and a French bean tart (my fav) will feel like Asian touches are added to the dishes, but not really, as the chef later explains.

Sail into the Amberjack with plum and herbs, which may change by the end of the month as the plum gives way to other seasonal produce. The Foie gras with anise and lovage is a combination I’ve never had before, though chef Sauthier assures me it is typical Savoyard. Lovage is a mountainous plant often used in Savoie cuisine. “We use a fern which grows at 2,000m above sea level. It smells like anise and to replace that aroma and taste I’ve used star anise. If I use a product from Asia or anywhere outside the Savoie region, it is something that is very close to the ingredients from the Alps,” adds the chef. Though this dish may not be for every palate as lovage is an acquired taste.

New heights  Experience cuisine from the French Alps at Maison Dunand's pop-up

From left: Lemon tart; Amberjack, plum and herbs.

New heights  Experience cuisine from the French Alps at Maison Dunand's pop-up

Foie gras, anise and lovage.

New heights  Experience cuisine from the French Alps at Maison Dunand's pop-up

From left: Coffee, cardamom and cocoa nibs; Pigeon, anchovy and lemon.

A staple and the chef’s signature dish of Caviar, potato and sea urchin is one of the stars and is just as good as I first remember it. The dish is inspired by a traditional French dish with caviar and potatoes, the latter being a staple in Savoyard cuisine. It would be a shame not to mention the housemade mountain bread that is rustic in taste and goes so well with my favourite butter, Le Beurre Bordier, which is served here. Though the earthy “pain de montagne”, made from organic French dark rye flour, is a good way to mop up all that potato foam and caviar.

The Lobster, mayonnaise and bisque is served three ways: Kohlrabi ravioli filled with lobster, a lobster beignet eaten with mayonnaise and to wash it down, a rich bisque with turnips. Though the bisque was a tad too salty for my liking, the ravioli was a hot fav as was the beignet. Monkfish, ankimo and porcini, which much like the plum will go out of season soon.

My favourite dish on the menu was to be next: Alps cheese, consommé and pine. The consommé is infused with pine from Savoie and adds a rich earthy taste to the clear broth. The goji berry in the consommé replaces a berry from the Alps that the chef cannot get here. The berry is marinated in chartreuse and while the menu looks like a twist of Asian and French, it is not. “It is French, though a few of the ingredients come from outside of France. It is reinterpreted French cuisine,” explains chef Sauthier.

The first main is Suckling pig served with juniper and apple — rich but good. The combination of the next course of Pigeon, anchovy and lemon is interesting and a new dish that chef Sauthier has never done before. French pigeons are in season and now are all over Bangkok’s top tables. The dessert of Coffee, cardamom and cocoa nibs is beautiful to look at and delightful to eat. Chef Sauthier’s signature dessert aka the Lemon tart is served at the end of the meal, which is the best way to end a meal here!

Though this menu begs the question as to what can be expected at Maison Dunand. “Unfortunately I cannot do a complete mountainous menu. We use a lot of lake fish in Savoie, which I will be using at Maison Dunand. The closest dishes to what will be served at Maison Dunand would be the consommé and the pigeon.

“It takes a long time to find an identity and that is what I am still creating. The identity I created at Le Normandie has to be changed to mark a new chapter. This is to make sure that people know this is still Arnaud from the Le Normandie but he has changed something. We always try to search for ourselves so the quest continues,” affirms chef Sauthier.

Maison Dunand pop-up, Gaggan Anand, Sukhumvit 31 / Until Jan 15, 2022 / Open Thursday to Monday, for lunch choose between four courses (B2,200++) or five (3,600++), and for six courses for dinner is B4,600++ or nine courses for B6,900++. Call 098-883-1033, email, Line: @maidsondunandbkk, IG @maisondunandbkk.

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